How can speed data help with the governments push for Clean Air Zones?

How can speed data help with the governments push for Clean Air Zones?

Our Account & Business Development Manager Lester Chine looks at how Basemap’s speed data could help the Government with their national push on clean air zones (CAZ) in his latest blog

There seems to be a dominant feature in transport policy discussions at Government level around the creation of CAZ (clean air zones) and many towns and cities are being directed to create CAZ in their centres to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. With any problem like this data is key to understanding the extent of the problem and goes a long way to informing policy makers and gatekeepers on the best way to tackle air pollution in line with Government and local authority targets.

In LTT773 (Local Transport) the front cover and several pages are dedicated to towns and cities who are developing CAZ strategies or are being directed by Government to introduce them to meet tough air quality targets. What surprises us here at Basemap is that there is little mention of accurate speed data to inform where congestion occurs and the pinch points where air quality could be at its worst. That is surprising, especially as the Department for Transport provide detailed speed data for free to any English Highways Department. This rich dataset is gathered from raw GPS data in vehicles and aggregated into 15-minute time bands. Over a year there are some 18 billion counts. Add to that the detail is at link level and bi-directional so when pinned to Ordnance Survey’s ITN data (again free to Councils) it makes for a compelling insight into traffic flow and speeds across road networks.

Our evidence suggests that around 10% of councils have this data and even less use it, because it is a very heavy dataset and not easy to interrogate with standard GIS tools. That is why Basemap developed Highways Analyst, a web based tool for easy querying and visualising of TrafficMaster speed data. It offers data going back around 8 years for comparative air quality analysis and can query vehicle type, road type as well as date/time to produce accurate and detailed results.  

With more and more councils having to devise policies and make decisions on how to reduce pollution and improve air quality, having as much relevant data to enable those decisions is not only key, it’s crucial. Email congestion.stats@dft.gov.uk to access the data for free. Email info@basemap.co.uk for information on Highways Analyst.